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Student-Built Bike Blenders to Debut at Honey of a JamFest

The idea that Roots Farm and SEED go together like bicycles and blenders seems impossible, but it is in fact, true.

At “A Honey of a JamFest” on Friday, September 28 at Roots, Upper School students enrolled in SEED (Social Entrepreneurship, Engineering, and Design) will be using bicycle-powered blenders, that they designed and built, to make smoothies. Building the blenders was the first project the sophomores and juniors tackled in the new year-long course in the Fader Innovation Center.

“The goal of the bike-powered blender project is to introduce students to the fundamentals of the three fields of innovation that make up SEED,” says Steve Eno, Upper School Science and Engineering teacher and one of three faculty members teaching the class. “Each team consists of students who identify as entrepreneurs, engineers, or designers. They must collaborate from the beginning, or the process can’t move forward. They have to go from idea to action immediately.”

Each team was given a “build budget” of $50 that they could manage as they saw fit. They were also allowed five “free” donations toward the project; several bikes and blenders were acquired as donations. The students’ greatest challenge was to figure out how to connect the bike’s moving chain to the blender’s apparatus. “We are hoping that the friction from the bike’s chain on this pencil will allow the pencil to move the blender’s gears,” says Brooke Gonzalez ‘20, poised with pencil in hand, “but we are figuring it out as we go.”

Match Zimmerman, Head of the Upper School Visual Arts Department, adds, “We knew this bicycle-powered blender project would be a hard task in a very tight deadline of just 10 weeks. We are hoping to help the students focus not just on the finished product alone, but on the process they went through to get as far as they did.”

Ruby Jocelyn ‘20, reflected on her bike blender experience, saying, “This bike-powered blender project has been very eye-opening, to say the least. Our group has gone through many ups and downs, but each step of the way we’ve been able to learn something and apply it during our SEED class. By splitting up into individual jobs such as being an engineer, entrepreneur, or a designer, our group was able to progress in an organized fashion, ensuring that we would be on the best path to complete the project,” she wrote.

This sort of project-based learning is what Upper School history and social studies teacher Ned Courtemanche appreciates and encourages. “We want to hold on to what is important in our curriculum, but also remain open to what could happen if we think beyond what is traditional. With this SEED class, we are setting sail on just a piece of plywood, but we are building a boat as we go. We are letting the process reveal the product.”